November 17, 2021

Just stop talking about weight with kids, says public health PhD grad

Alexa Ferdinands

Photo: Virginia Quist

“We should just keep weight out of everyday conversation with our kids.”

That’s the conclusion Alexa Ferdinands came to after interviewing young people about their experiences with obesity-related stigma for her PhD in health promotion and socio-behavioural sciences in the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health.

“When it comes to nutrition, there are so many other things to talk about, like eating healthfully, maintaining energy, and mental health,” said Ferdinands, who graduates this week. “The blame and shame that comes from individually targeting people for their weight needs to stop.”

Ferdinands’ research involved in-depth interviews with 16 young people aged 15 to 21 who grew up in larger bodies. Despite their origins in diverse countries including Mauritius, Kenya, Ghana, Romania and Canada, Ferdinands said they had similar experiences.

“Their parents had the best intentions in mind — they were just really concerned about their health and their well-being — but it came across as very discouraging when, for example, your mom’s telling you every day that high blood pressure runs in the family and that you really need to watch your weight, while monitoring your food intake at the table,” she said.

Read the full article on Folio.